The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Fear for the Unknown

A middle-aged woman with salt-and-pepper bobbed hair and a nylon jacket staggered to my apartment playground clutching her chest.

I ran across the lot to her, thinking she was having a heart attack. But in limited English and desperate body language, she conveyed she’d been mugged: her purse, grocery bags, and head scarf had just been stolen from her.

With my heart racing, I looked back at my girlfriends to make sure they were watching my children, and used my cell phone to call 911.

Wishing I could speak any foreign language at all, I tried to understand her English. At first I thought her son had robbed her, but eventually I figured out that by saying a "son" had grabbed her things from her – she’d actually meant "boy." From a swoop of her arm, I also figured out that the mugging happened just half a block up from the playground.

She was upset and shaken, pale with red around those soft brown eyes.

I touched her shoulders and clumsily attempted to embrace her. She sighed heavily. As the state trooper response center on the phone transferred me to the local sheriff, she sank to the cold ground holding her side, closing her eyes shut tight.

Kneeling next to her, I realized I didn’t know whether the thief had injured her or if this was just the body’s natural response to fear and vulnerability.

When the sheriff arrived five minutes later, he patiently phrased and re-phrased his questions to get accurate answers. She sadly shook her head “no” many times. No, she hadn't seen the thief – here she covered her head with her arms and cowered, showing us how she'd turned away from him when he assaulted her. And no, she didn’t have any ID – here she raised her hands, her eyes pleading with mine.

“No keys, no money, no phone!” she cried.

“Of course,” the sheriff had said softly. “They’re in the purse.”

In the end, a sheriff's car headed off in the direction the thief had fled (a fruitless gesture, to be sure), and the assisting officer said I was free to go. He'd take the woman to her apartment – just a hundred yards up the hill from mine – to find a relative who might speak more English, to interpret her Farsi.

This happened several months ago at eleven o’clock on a Tuesday morning. I haven’t seen the woman since, but I’ve thought a lot about her – essentially every time I leave my home, every time I look over my shoulder when I’m out alone or with my children. I’ve thought about crime, danger, fear, and loss. I’ve also thought about safety, protection, community, and love.

And, even though I haven’t seen her near the playground or out on a walk or at the store, I dare to hope that it’s not because she no longer comes out alone. Instead, I hope it’s because I simply don’t recognize her: a scarf on her head, a purse over her arm, and clear brown eyes without a trace of red around them.

By Anjie Reynolds

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